Monday, June 24, 2024

NZ comedy icon dead at 76

Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni has paid tribute to New Zealand comedian, actor, producer and writer, David McPhail, who passed away overnight aged 76.

Mr McPhail ONZM QSM had a comedy career that spanned four decades, across both television and theatre. 

“David’s contribution to New Zealand comedy was immense, and his passing is a great loss to Aotearoa,” Ms Sepuloni said.

“David began his celebrated career as a television journalist for the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation. From there he went on to report on Town and Around, working also as a producer and actor.

“David fronted one of the earliest New Zealand comedy shows, A Week of It, which was hugely popular for its innovative style of political satire and sketch format.

David as former PM, Robert Muldoon.

“David’s legendary comedy, McPhail and Gadsby, madewith long-time comedy partner Jon Gadsby, ran for seven successful seasons.

“His work has had a profound and lasting impact on television comedy, particularly satire, in New Zealand.”

David went on to co-write and act in other television programmes such as Letter to Blanchy. In the early 1990s, David turned to the stage, acting at Christchurch’s Court Theatre. His most famous impersonation – of former Prime Minister Robert Muldoon – was inspiration for his one-man play, Muldoon,which toured the country in 2003.

In 1992, David McPhail was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for public services, and in 2008, he was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to television and theatre.

David with long-time comedy partner, Jon Gadsby.

“So many New Zealanders have fond memories of David on our TV screens during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and his passing will be felt across New Zealand.  I particularly remember his political satire which taught us to laugh and critique ourselves and our politicians,” she said.

“So many people throughout the comedy, television, and theatrical communities of Aotearoa will be particularly feeling this loss, he was a friend and mentor to many.

“I wish to extend my warmest sympathies to David’s whānau and friends at this time.”

Mr McPhail’s son, Matt, posted news of his father’s passing Facebook this morning.

“It is with the deepest sadness that I share with you the news that our wonderful husband, father and grandfather David McPhail died in his sleep last night,” Matt wrote.

“He leaves a great big hole in our lives but not in our hearts. A truly beautiful man.”

Mr McPhail is survived by his wife, Anne, and the couple’s two children.

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